FAIRBANKS – The turbines of the Eva Creek Wind Farm near Healy produced their first power this week, a milestone as the largest wind project in Alaska moves toward commercial operation.
The $93 million wind farm of Golden Valley Electric Association should begin providing steady power in mid-November, GVEA spokeswoman Cassandra Cerny said Friday.
“Right now, they are commissioning the turbines, and five are fully commissioned right now,” she said. “Commissioning requires wind to be blowing, and during commissioning, they only run the turbines when on site.”
“They run the turbines at a slower speed, lower output, then they watch and make sure everything is functioning as it could, then they crank it up,” she said. “It’s part of the testing process.”
The first power from the project came at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Power feeds into GVEA’s system during the commissioning but not in any significant way.
“It might just be a little bit here and there,” Cerny said.
Eva Creek, approved by GVEA’s board of directors in June 2011, is a key component of the Fairbanks-based electricity cooperative’s plan to produce 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2014, eventually leading to lower energy bills for consumers and businesses.
The project consists of 12 turbines at the top of the Ferry mining road, 14 miles north of Healy. Each turbine is 410 feet tall, with each blade measuring 147 in length.
GVEA expects the turbines will produce 77 million kilowatt-hours per year, enough to power more than 9,100 homes annually. The utility’s website says that, if oil prices average $90 per barrel, Eva Creek would save consumers $13.6 million during the next 20 years.
The state allocated $11.4 million to the project, with the rest being financed through the federal Clean Renewable Energy Bond program.
Construction is nearly complete at the site, Cerny said. Some of the remaining construction includes substation and communications work.
GVEA had hoped to have the wind project in operation by the end of October, but the commissioning schedule slipped slightly.
“Really, what’s delayed us is a lack of wind,” Cerny said.
Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at
459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.